Sir William Harris (1556–1616) was an English knight, land owner, and a notable incorporator in the third Virginia Company of London.
This Harris family appears to have originated some 40 to 50 miles east-north-east of London and on the north bank of the River Crouch. The village of Cricksea (or Creeksea) exists today on this peninsula in Essex County. Creeksea is located about 2 miles west of Burnham-on-the -Crouch and about 18 miles inland from the North Sea. Anciently Called "Danes Island", this area was inhabitted largely by Norman families after the conquest 1066.
Sir William Harris was knighted on 23 July 1603 at Whitehall on the eve of the coronation of James I. His elevation to the knighthood was the result of military service in Ireland during the Nine Years' War (Ireland) along with his cousin Sir William Harris of Shenfield, Essex.
William Harris was born 21 Sep 1556 in Essex. His parents were Sir Arthur Harris and Dorothy Waldegrave. He made his home at Creeksea Place Manor
William married Alice Smythe on 6 May 1583 in St Gabriel Fenchurch, London, England. Alice was the daughter of Thomas Smythe of Westenhanger, Kent.
The children of Sir William Harris and Lady Alice Harris were:
Sir Arthur Harris b 1584....d 9 Jan 1632
William Harris b 1585....d 1622 in Lincolns Inn, Middlesex.
Thomas Harris b 1586....d 1617 in England, unmarried and without issue
John Harris b 1588....d by 14 Oct 1638 in Charles City Co., Va.
Alice Harris married Sir Henry Mildmay
Frances Harris married Mr. Roope
Mary Harris married Gyles Browne
Sir William Harris, his brother in law, Sir Thomas Smythe and his son, Sir Arthur Harris, each, were Incorporators and Subscribers to the third charter of the Virginia Company of London, and each paid £75 as their subscription. Both Harris and Smythe were very interested in the development of Virginia. They exerted their influence to secure money, men, equipment, supplies, and ships for the colonization efforts.
Lady Alice died 10 November 1615 and Sir William on 14 Nov 1616. Both are buried at All Saints Church in Creeksea. All Saints still displays a depiction of Sir William and his sword, a rapier, which was found in Creeksea Place and given to the church.